The Transformation Of Priyanka Chopra From Childhood To 39

We may receive a commission on purchases made from links.

Priyanka Chopra may have been the envy of many women when she got a Jonas brother to put a ring on it, but what's more noteworthy is her slow yet sure rise to the top. Her journey toward becoming a household name is one that's both calculated and a product of chance. Twice, she's been recognized as one of the world's most influential and powerful women, per Forbes and Time. As such, Chopra is no stranger to breaking the glass ceiling. She owes most of her success to her knowledge of who she is and what she brings to the table.

"There's only one you. Okay? Because there's no one like you. And I don't mean the superfluous, superficial parts. I'm talking about the core of you. Who you are inside; your values, your beliefs, your flaws," she shared during a Penguin Random House event (via NDTV).

Having a deep understanding of who she is has allowed Chopra to carve a niche that is uniquely her own. That meant embracing her Indian roots, overcoming trauma and loss, trying her hand in a singing career that never quite took off, and eventually winning over Hollywood with her indispensable acting prowess. Her life as the public experiences it now was born from a joke that went too far. Stick around to find out how.

Priyanka Chopra grew up in a military household

Priyanka Chopra was raised in a family of four. Her only sibling, Siddharth, who's featured on her Instagram a number of times, is seven years younger. Their parents were military physicians, which meant that theirs was a nomadic lifestyle across India. "Both my parents served in the Indian Army ... and maybe that's why I feel such a kinship with military families all over the world," Chopra posted in 2020.

In the July/August 2022 issue of Harper's Bazaar Spain, Chopra described her childhood as "quite an adventure." Besides moving around a lot, she attended boarding school. "Of course, my childhood was full of love, laughter, and family," Chopra told the publication, per BollywoodShaadis.

As a child, one of her favorite things to do was to try on her father's army uniform. He was her idol. Although he was a surgeon, Ashok Chopra had an artistic streak. She wanted to emulate him in every way possible. He encouraged the explorer in her, which allowed her to pursue her goals relentlessly. In 2013, Ashok Chopra succumbed to cancer. Priyanka dealt with the loss the only way she knew how. "When he died, I went back to work four days later because that's the only thing I know how to do when I'm dealing with things," she revealed during an interview with London Real.

She had many dreams as a child

Growing up, acting was nowhere near Priyanka Chopra's scope of probable career choices. She had a wide range of options that seemed to change with each passing year. " I wanted to be a pilot, and I wanted to be a housemaid. That was interesting–I wanted to clean things, wash dishes–I went through a phase of that," she revealed during an interview with Young Hollywood. Her dreams of becoming a helper would have hit a wall, simply because cooking is not her strongest suit. Priyanka Chopra is a master at ordering in.

Cooking aside, Chopra's most dominant ambition was becoming an aeronautical engineer. She was a Mathematics-Physics student who was academically gifted. Brilliance ran in the family. Academia, therefore, was the most obvious bet. " I wanted to be in NASA, build planes. It's so ironic that I just literally live in one now," she said in an interview with W Magazine.

In the Chopra household, show business was a far-fetched possibility. For a long time, Chopra's family did not understand what she did for a living. Questions such as " What do you do?" and "What's your job?" frequently came from her grandmother, per Build Series.

She was faced with bullying in high school

At 13, Priyanka Chopra visited a relative in the United States and was immediately in awe of the culture. She marveled at a school in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, that seemed so different from what she was used to back in India. "They don't wear uniforms here?" she asked (via Today). She managed to convince her parents to let her stay longer and finish high school miles away from home. She strengthened her argument by adding that going to school in America would be good for her future.

Except she didn't see what was coming. Being the only Indian student in her school made her an easy target. "Yes I faced [racism] when I was in high school in a really big way because I was also an insecure 16-year-old who wasn't sure about what I stood for," she disclosed in an NDTV interview. In high school, Chopra's background earned her nicknames such as "Brownie" and "Curry." It had a negative impact on her self-esteem and made her want to change herself.

Years later, Chopra highlights that her success is in no way meant to prove a point to her bullies. If anything, not changing one bit about who she is allowed her to thrive. "I'm quite forgiving about it, you know. I don't see this as payback" (via The Wrap).

If you or a loved one has experienced a hate crime, contact the VictimConnect Hotline by phone at 1-855-4-VICTIM or by chat for more information or assistance in locating services to help. If you or a loved one are in immediate danger, call 911.

Her mom entered her into Miss India Pageant as a joke

After schooling in the United States, Priyanka Chopra returned to India in her mid-teens. In what was meant to be a prank by her mother, she was entered into the Miss India beauty pageant. At the time, she was not the poised, self-assured woman we have known her to be. "First of all, I didn't think I was pretty. Second of all, I was very shy," she shared while speaking to Today. As far as beauty was concerned, she was far from it. Only activities such as debates that required her to use her brain boosted her confidence.

Madhu Chopra's slyness paid off in the long run. In the final round of questions, Chopra was asked who she'd rather marry between a great Indian sportsman, an artistic businessman, and a film star. Her answer to the question was an ode to her country; she would be just as proud as everyone else if a sportsman returned home from representing India. She took the crown home. Clinching the title paved the way for her to become a Miss World contestant.

Priyanka Chopra was crowned Miss World at the age of 17

In the year 2000, Priyanka Chopra became Miss World. She was only 17 years old. It was a special event, not only for Chopra but the entire Miss World fraternity. The 50th pageant marked the first time it was being hosted after the death of its founder, Eric Morley, who died at the age of 82, per The New York Times.

For an honor student who could barely walk in heels, winning the title came as a shocker. That she could transform from being a tomboy to winning the grandest beauty contest on the face of the earth, was more than Chopra could handle. "I was like, the gawkiest teenager, I had no self-esteem ... When I was a teenager, I was a tomboy, so I had scars. I was always falling on my knees and you know, they were not the prettiest legs in the world." Chopra told W Magazine.

Though she didn't feel so good on the inside, Chopra made the most out of being on stage. For the talent showcase, she performed "Save the Best for Last" by Vanessa Williams. Singing became a gift that she would try to pursue, but not before she was introduced to the acting business.

Priyanka Chopra ventured into Bollywood

By virtue of being a familiar face, offers landed on Priyanka Chopra's doorstep in the form of Bollywood roles she couldn't decline. Through the years, Chopra appeared in many movies, including "The Hero: Love Story of a Spy," Barsaat," "Drona," and "Pyaar Impossible," to name but a few. By 2017, the number of her on-screen roles was well over fifty. "I did about four movies a year," she divulged while in conversation on "Jimmy Kimmel Live."

Chopra owes her lengthy track record to being a workaholic. Although it may seem that things have been handed to her, she's of the opinion that once opportunity knocks on anyone's door, it's up to them to make the best of it. "You have to be able to recognize opportunities because there'll be a lot of them that come into your life. Once you recognize an opportunity you have to seize the day and work bloody hard because there'll be twenty-five other people who'll wanna do it," she told London Real.

Of all the misconceptions about Bollywood, the one that irks her nerves is the fact that it's classified as a genre. In the eyes of Chopra, Bollywood is an industry as diverse as Hollywood, with genres that range from action to dramas, comedies, and soapies. She demystified the myth on "Late Night with Seth Meyers."

2013 marked the release of her first single

Priyanka Chopra was introduced to yet another aspect of the entertainment business in 2011: Music. Through an interview with director Matt Schichter, she mentioned that Universal approached her with a recording proposal. Prior to that, she'd only been on stage for fun. "We know you can sing and we have this great idea of taking a Bollywood act and making it international, because, you know, India is such a great market now," they told her.

 According to The Hollywood Reporter, the agreement involved an album release under the management of Troy Carter, who'd worked with top music acts like Lady Gaga. Chopra released her first single, "In My City" in September 2012. The song featured rapper, and has since accumulated over 61 million views on YouTube. It was a best-seller in her home country, and subsequently won her a People's Choice Award in India. "In My City" was followed with the release of her second and third singles, "Exotic" and "I Can't Make You Love Me."

Music, as it turned out, wasn't sustainable in the long term. Chopra is often hard at work, and it doesn't help that she goes back and forth between continents. With so much time spent in the air and on set, she barely has time to get to the studio, Chopra told The Wrap.

Priyanka Chopra became the star of Quantico in 2015

Having conquered Bollywood by appearing in more than fifty productions, Priyanka Chopra set her sights on Hollywood. Luck would have it that she'd get it right on her first try. As Alex Parrish, the no-nonsense FBI agent on the ABC thriller series "Quantico," Chopra introduced herself to a global audience. She didn't necessarily plan for this milestone but was open to exploring because she wanted to get the world's attention. "I guess I just wanted to see where else life would take me, what else I can do. I don't think they [Hollywood and Bollywood] are mutually exclusive," she told Today.

The show's ratings plummeted by its third season, per Variety, ultimately leading to its cancellation, as reported by Deadline. With a new market unveiled, Chopra has achieved her goal of traversing the world. In 2017, she portrayed the role of Victoria Leeds in "Baywatch," and followed it up with appearances in "A Kid Like Jake", "Isn't It Romantic" and "We Can Be Heroes." On her portrayal of Sati in "The Matrix Resurrections", Chopra told Entertainment Weekly it was "really fun, at least in the physicality."

Behind the lens, Chopra has taken to production through Purple Pebble Pictures, a company she established in 2015. In addition to producing Chopra's YouTube series "If I Could Tell You Just One Thing," Purple Pebble Pictures has brought several works to life, including "The White Tiger" and "Paani"

With more significant fame came an increased net worth

Of the values Priyanka Chopra holds, financial independence is high on her list. Having begun work at such a young age, Chopra's aim to steady her financial muscle was further fueled by her mother's advice. "I remember my mother telling me this really young; that women should be financially independent. It doesn't matter who your father is, it doesn't matter who your husband is gonna be," she has famously said.

Celebrity Net Worth places Chopra's current net worth at $70 million. The publication further estimates that she can pull in $10 million for her roles, a claim backed heavily by Forbes in 2017. In addition to smiling her way to the bank as an actor, Priyanka Chopra has represented a number of brands over the years. In 2013, she cemented her place in history by being the first-ever Indian Guess Girl, per WWD. Other brands she's worked with include Lux and Schmitten Chocolates.

Before she markets a product, Chopra has a personal vetting standard that has to be met. "I need to be associated with brands I can say are premium in their categories. They have to be brands that I associate with," she said in an interview with Brand Equity, further insisting that she'd never sell something she hasn't tested on herself.

She lends her voice to worthy causes

Making her own money may be a big priority, but Priyanka Chopra knows the platform she's been given is larger than life. She uses her voice when needed. For years, she's done extensive work with the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), a course she holds close to her heart. "My involvement with UNICEF started ten years ago in India," Chopra said while honoring the organization back in 2016. She went on to highlight the plight of disadvantaged children all over the globe who are forced to live without their daily basic needs.

Chopra's interest in philanthropy is a character that she honed from seeing the giving nature of her own parents. Her life growing up, however, was nothing like that of the children she passionately fights for. "Even though we were children of two army doctors, I mean, it was pretty modest. But we were still told that we were very privileged," she let it be known in the line of duty.

Her memoir was released in 2021

When the pandemic struck and the world came to a standstill, Priyanka Chopra chose to write. With acting jobs out of the way, the result of the stillness was a 256-page chronicle of her life dubbed "Unfinished". Chopra holds the belief that life is a solitary journey, and she told her story in the most authentic way possible. "I predominantly finished it during Quarantine," she explained to "Live Kelly and Ryan." "We were all home and it was the best time to sort of just sit back and introspect on my life."

The writing of "Unfinished" wasn't entirely a pleasant affair, especially at the beginning when she hadn't the slightest clue on how to piece it together. Speaking to ET Canada, Chopra dished out details of the daunting exercise. "The technical side of the writing process was really, you know, confusing for me. I didn't know [how] to write a book. What's the intro? The conclusion? What should the body have."

Luckily for her, she had the help of a co-author who helped bring her story to life. When she finally managed to finish the manuscript, Chopra was a bit emotional. The book, as it turned out, was healing. It gave her the space to "deal with a lot of things that I hadn't thought about for a really long time."

Her friendship with Meghan Markle is well chronicled

Having been in Hollywood for a long time, Priyanka Chopra is not short of friends in the acting industry. Most notable is her relationship with former "Suits" star and Duchess of Sussex, Meghan Markle. The pair are a great match since they are both passionate about humanitarian work. Their friendship was born at an ELLE Women in Television Dinner, and, as Chopra told People, they simply "became friends like two girls would."

As friends, Markle and Chopra have publicly shown love for each other. Way before Markle's Instagram account became non-existent, Chopra would share pictures of them on a girls' night out, per The Sun. And when her friend famously got hitched to Prince Harry, Chopra, who was a guest at the wedding, penned a long Instagram post in honor of the couple. "Every choice made at this wedding by you both will go down in history, not just because it was your wedding, but because this incredible wedding stood for change and hope," the post read, in part.

When it came to Chopra's own wedding, Meghan Markle was nowhere to be seen. A rumor emerged that she was upset and didn't show up to her baby shower either, but Chopra cleared it up on "Watch What Happens with Andy Cohen." Markle celebrated her 40th birthday by involving forty of her friends, and Chopra was part of the initiative, proving that they are on good terms.

Priyanka Chopra tied the knot with Nick Jonas in 2018

Priyanka Chopra and Nick Jonas first set tongues wagging when they showed up together at the Met Gala in 2017 (via Vogue). Though the pair denied dating at the time, it was only a matter of time before fans who shipped them had a field day. She wasn't just another addition to Nick Jonas' relationship history. Unknown to everyone, the pair had been in communication long before Ralph Lauren decided they should share the red carpet.

He'd messaged her on Twitter, per Jonas and Chopra's interview with Vogue. They bonded over a drink only a week before their red carpet debut, after which Chopra invited him home. On how he won her over, Chopra told the publication that it came down to her ambition. "I love the way you look at the world. I love the drive you have," Jonas had said. In the past, she'd had negative feedback as far as her go-getting attitude was concerned. Needless to say, he proposed, and she accepted.

In 2018, they had a three-day wedding that included an Indian ceremony, a Western celebration, and a day of pre-rituals, per Vogue. During an appearance on "The Ellen Show," Chopra revealed that they opted to keep the wedding intimate, having at least 200 guests in attendance. Their love story, according to Nick Jonas, simply "wrote itself" (via "The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon").

The couple became parents via surrogacy in 2022

2022 came with massive change for the Jonas family. Through a post on Instagram, the couple announced that they welcomed their first child. "We are overjoyed to confirm that we have welcomed a baby via surrogate. We respectfully ask for privacy during this special time as we focus on our family. Thank you so much." the announcement read.

On May 8th, 2022, Priyanka Chopra celebrated her first Mother's Day. Nick Jonas shared a picture of his family of three, blurring his little girl's face with a heart emoji. He commended Chopra for the ease and steadiness with which she's assumed the role. Chopra's parenting approach, albeit voiced early on, is to allow her child to have the freedom to make her own choices. "As a new parent right now, I keep thinking about ... never imposing my desires, fears, or my upbringing onto my child. I've always believed that children come through you, and not from you," Chopra emphasized in a conversation with Youtuber-turned-television personality, Lilly Singh (via Books & Books).

A year prior to the announcement, Chopra had confirmed through ET Canada that her goal was to have a house full of kids, each with their own sense of individuality. So far, things have come full circle for Chopra as she uses lessons from her own childhood to raise her own.